Jesus, the Word of God, Is Not Bound

TODAY’S READING: 2 TIMOTHY

“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ with eternal glory.” (2 Timothy 2.8-10)

John 1 boldly declares that Jesus is the word of God. And, he took on flesh and dwelt among us. Despite this shocking declaration by John, when we say “the word of God” our minds immediately think “the Bible.” In addition to directly saying the Bible is the word of God, we make the unconscious association that the Bible is the word of God so often that the Bible and the word of God have become one and the same thing. Even Christians who know that the word of God is Jesus and not the Bible casually slip into saying “the word of God” when they really mean the Bible.

Today’s scripture helps to see that the word of God and the Bible are not the same thing.

Paul says, “The word of God is not bound!”

Can we therefore say, “The Bible is not bound!”?

We only need to look at the context of the verse to know that we cannot equate the word of God and the Bible. These two things are not interchangeable.

The actual structure, or pattern, of what Paul is saying reveals this. In this passage of scripture there are five basic points with five subjects of those five points.

The five subjects are

  1. Jesus
  2. Paul
  3. Word of God
  4. Paul
  5. Jesus

The five points are

  1. Raised from the dead
  2. Suffering under chains (bound)
  3. Not bound
  4. Suffering everything
  5. Eternal glory

Listing the five subjects and five points without all the other wording, helps to see the essence of what is being said. There is a symmetry and flow to what Paul is saying that makes it clear Jesus is the word of God.

  1. Jesus is risen.
  2. Paul is suffering under chains (bound).
  3. Jesus is not bound!
  4. Paul suffers everything.
  5. Jesus is amid eternal glory.

The essence of what Paul is saying is, “Jesus is risen from the dead, no longer bound by death but living in eternal glory, and I will suffer everything, including being bound, for you so that you can obtain salvation.”

But, if we combine these subjects and points with the Bible as the word of God, then we lose the essence of Paul’s statement.

  1. Jesus is risen.
  2. Paul is suffering under chains (bound).
  3. The Bible is not bound!
  4. Paul suffers everything.
  5. Jesus is amid eternal glory.

Frankly, it is patently absurd to think that is the message Paul is trying to convey.

Further, Peter’s first sermon makes reference to Jesus being raised to life and not being bound to death.

“God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” (Acts 2.24)

The Greek word translated loosing almost means untying or releasing. If something is untied or released, then it is no longer bound. God raised Jesus, and Jesus having been untied from the birth pains of death. The word of God was raised and is no longer bound.

Why is it so important to see Jesus as the word of God and not the Bible?

When say the Bible is the word of God, then we must believe that the every statement – every jot and tittle – in the Bible is perfectly true for God never lies. Therefore, those that believe the Bible is the word of God typically read the Bible very literally.

But, Jesus said the scriptures, which for us is basically the Bible, are merely are witness to him. (John 5.39-40). The scriptures witness to Jesus, the word of God.

Jesus said, “I am the truth.” The scriptures witness to the truth, Jesus. The scriptures, the Bible, themselves are not the truth.

“Do you best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2.15)

Is Paul talking about Jesus or the Bible there?

The Greek word translated “rightly handling” more literally means “guiding along a straight path.”

In addition to saying “I am the truth,” Jesus said, “I am the way.” Jesus is the path of life to follow. Hence, Christians were initially known as The Way. They followed the way, Jesus.

Therefore, the essence of what Paul is saying that we should strive to present ourselves to God as one approved by following along the straight path of Jesus. That straight path involves picking up our cross and suffering just as Jesus did.

When we make the word of God the Bible instead of Jesus, then

  • We worship the Bible instead of Jesus.
  • We imitate the Bible instead of Jesus.
  • We follow the way of the Bible instead of the way of Jesus.
  • We make the Bible our truth instead of Jesus.
  • We seek life from the Bible instead of Jesus.

But, all of this makes the Bible an idol. And, it is this idolatry, this bibliolatry, that ha caused Christians to do, endorse, sanction, and allow all sorts of things that Jesus would never have done.

With the Bible as our way, truth, and life instead of Jesus, then

  • We can go to war, justifying the killing and destruction of our enemies.
  • We can enslave, demean, beat, brutalize and treat like cattle our enemies enemies.
  • We can cast out of our very presence our enemies.
  • We can commit genocide against our enemies.
  • We can rape the women of our enemies.
  • We can destroy the children of our enemies.
  • We can take revenge on our enemies.

Because, in the Bible, Israel, God’s people, did all of these things because they believed God told them to do all of these things. And, if in the Bible God told them to do it, then God could tell us to do it too.

However, when Jesus is the word of God, when Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, then we only to listen to Jesus. We are guided on the straight that Jesus walked. We can’t do any of the things Israel, God’s people, did to their enemies in the Bible.

Instead, we love our enemies as Jesus loved us.

Do this and you will be raised from the dead, no longer bound, and amid eternal glory just like Jesus.

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